Plot: Observing his father Aoyama's barren existence after his wife's death, Ryoko advices him to find a girl for himself. Aoyama's search for an ideal girl leads to an audition process where he and his friend interview girls to find a suitable match for him under the pretense of casting the selected girl in a movie. Aoyama falls for a mysterious girl with a gloomy past and an opaque present.
A film like Audition angers me because I don't get the satisfaction I usually do from movies. Therefore I find it hard to give my thoughts about the film. I do not believe the view that Audition represents the evolution of women in Japan. It rather has to do with Aoyama's mind playing tricks on him during his dream sequences. But the initial sequences with Ashimi in her apartment with a sack besides her baffle the audience all the more and one cannot distinguish between the real and the imaginary. I felt the film did have deeper messages which it deceptively concealed behind the hallucination sequences, but it hid them almost to an unfair extent.
Three sittings and I yet have not found that thread that would give the film a clear meaning to me. When I spend six hours on one movie, I need to be able to find the right key to the film. This key will impact me unconsciously at a moment during the film after which I am able to sit back and watch the rest without thinking of it as an abstract form but plainly a great movie. This happened in the case of La Dolce Vita, where after giving the movie a whole nine hours, I realized why the film meant something to me. Audition does not do this - it remains an abstract piece of work that would rather appeal to surreal artists. In short, it does not possess one of the most important feature of a 'movie'- that is to remain accessible. That is possibly why modern artworks don't excite me - they contain some selfishness and 'Love it or hate it' attitude of the artist.
Balsadragon, a generous contributor whose lucid interpretation of Audition can be read in the viewer's comment section, has pointed out to certain things that may shed light on certain aspects of the film but I would like to point out that some points mentioned in his analysis are wrong. For example, when Aoyama is reviewing her resume, he is not consuming alcohol but is drinking a warm cup of tea or coffee and therefore, he is in his senses when he reads her profile. Also I don't consider Aoyama's thoughts regarding women to be medieval; what is really wrong in being a traditional woman who serves her family? The analysis seems to condemn harshly Aoyama's perception about women which I find unnecessary. The 'guilt' is more about auditioning Ashimi, and when Ashimi accepts the proposal, Aoyama's feeling of guilt reduces and that's why he doesn't want her to be a vicious femme fatale anymore in his dream. Nevertheless, it is a write-up worth reading because it presents many valid arguments. Again I stress, I don't desire movies to be so cerebral for the viewers.
To those dumbfounded viewers who can't make head or tail of the film, think of it in such a way: a man falls love with a woman for the first time in seven years and is presented with vague facts about her, leading to a nightmare that transforms these ideas about the woman into something grotesque until he gets up in a state of shock. After he is comforted by reality, he falls asleep again to give a final resolution to his dream. Wish Audition had presented the idea in simpler terms.
My Rating: Difficult to grade the film in numbers. I think the scenes that were beautifully filmed have to be appreciated. Therefore, I go with 6.7 out of 10. Not meant for general audience.